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The Great Awakening 11/03/2009 - 5:34 PM

2623902 by Pete Bodo

Well, I took my time and read through all the comments at my Andre Agassi post of yesterday, and cherry-picked some of the questions raised there in hopes of laying to rest this issue. Because one thing I'm convinced of is that this isn't any bigger an issue than you choose to make of it. As is often the case, it took on a life of its own because the facts are familiar and simple, and the moral implications clear and well-defined. Isn't it ironic.

So let's start with this: Upon hearing that Agassi had sold his book for a $5 million advance,  David Hirshey, a friend and well-known editor at HarperCollins, remarked: Wow, that's President money!"

True enough. In order to get a contract of such magnitude, Andre was certainly obliged to reveal - confidentially, of course - what kind of material the book would contain. This is how it's done in publishing; nobody in his right mind is going to give an author a 5 million-dollar advance (which is paid back from the author's royalties before the author sees another dime; it works the same way for a book that gets a modest advance of, say, $10,000)  and not have a good idea of what he or she is going to get. Did that condition the size of the advance? Probably. Was that a happy side-effect (for Agassi) of Agassi wanting to write a truthful book? I think your answer to that will depend on how you view Agassi. I come down on his side.

Once an author pays back the advance from his royalties, he begins to earn per-book royalties. That way, even if you had a low advance, your earning power is, theoretically, unlimited. Author and publisher also negotiate paperback, film, television and serial rights. That's how it works.

One comment poster wondered who chooses the pre-publication excerpts. It's the editors of whatever publication secures the "first serial" rights. With a book like Agassi's, a number of big players (including Time Inc., which publishes both People and Sports Illustrated, where excerpts have already been published) presumably bought the exclusive, North American first-serial rights. And you can bet they paid dearly. Their editors then had carte blanche to select the limited amount of "exclusive" material they were entitled to publish. Naturally, the were looking for the most bang for the buck.

I've read that Agassi will be the subject of an interview on Sixty Minutes on the eve of the official publication date of the book. Yes, it seems like the public relations/marketing folks at the publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, have been right on top of things - after all, they're the ones who have to dig themselves out of the $5 million debt they incurred by buying the book. Authors of "minor" books often are left out of the loop on whatever PR effort is made to publicize their work (usually, it begins and ends with the publisher sending out some free books to reviewers), but the bigger the investment, the more inclined a publisher is to promote the product. You can bet that Knopf co-ordinated its efforts with Agassi, and actively sought his participation in them, perhaps even on a contractual basis - just like Nike or any other sponsor requires its top endorsers to give X-number days to the effort to promote the product.

All in all, the most resonant criticism I found in the comments was the accusation that Andre let the sport take a hit in the interest of advancing his own cause. There's some truth in that, I suppose; Federer, Nadal, Murray et al now have to take a position and defend the sport. But this is a tricky question: what's more important "protecting" the image of the sport, or being truthful in a book the promises candor?

What if Agassi's impulse to honesty came up against his desire to promote his sport - to which desire would you give precedence, presuming your conscience is in good working order?  And finally, if the premis that Agassi is really being open about the critical events that shaped his life and career, isn't he stealing money from everyone who buys the book if he consciously withholds information that his own conscience or view of his life and career deems significant?

I read a very wise observation in a novel, I think it was The Kite Runner. There is only one sin or crime: the crime of theft. Did Agassi "steal" the integrity of the sport, much like he would have stolen money from all those book-buyers? I don't think so; if Agassi did meth and got away with it, the sport, by definition, isn't clean. What Agassi did was expose a truth about the sport in the course of telling the truth about himself.

Now, about those lies, and the way Agassi ducked punishment for his positive drug test.

I've lied enough times in my life to know that in Agassi's shoes, I would have done the same thing. That's especially so when you consider the age factor (he was 26 at the time). I don't generally hammer people, especially young people, for lying when they've really screwed up, there's no other way out, and there's no victim in any meaningful sense - either to their action or the lie told to cover it up.

I also know it's "wrong" to lie, even that way. I just don't have it in my heart to generate any moral fury over it. Actually, I lied as recently as seven minutes ago, when I told an unwanted caller on the phone that I was "very busy" when all I was doing was eating a bowl of cereal with bananas. 

Okay, I'm lying about that (about the caller part, anyway; I was, however, eating a bowl of cereal. That's the honest to God truth).

See what I mean?

Also, I know from experience that sometimes, telling the truth is a really, really stupid idea. I don't think it was in this case; in fact, I think Agassi could have told the truth and I'm pretty sure the Lords of Tennis would have found a way to keep that Top Tennis Star is Meth Addict headline out of the newspapers. They certainly would have tried, given the standards of the day (more about that later).

Don't for a moment think I'm not serious about that: Imagine Agassi coming clean and throwing himself at the mercy of the ATP - what do you think the organization would have done, given the nature and specifics of the offense? I say they would have frozen up and hustled Agassi off into rehab - for the good of the sport.

I believe that the ATP bought into a pretty transparent lie because it wanted desperately to believe it, and I imagine everyone thought it would better for everyone involved if the officials did believe it. I'm a pretty black-and-white guy, and some of you are as well. But we inhabit a world of gray and navigate it as best we can.

I suppose one reason I feel this way is because of the awful bind the ATP has put itself in with these suspensions for so-called "recreational" drug use. It's a hideous kind of posturing the ATP (and other agencies) are engaging in with these authoritarian displays, and it's dehumanizing. I can't think of a justifiable reason for why an athlete should be held to any higher standard than am I in the workplace - except when it comes to the use of performance-enhancing drugs (I'm sure many managers love to see their workers ingesting performance-enhancing substances, like coffee, which is one difference between the office and the playing field).

If you look at Agassi's playing record during that meth period, you can see that if he were suspended for anything, it ought to have been for using a performance-inhibiting substance. And that's very different from what we saw in the case of those who tested positive for performance-enhancing substances, like former French Open finalist, Mariano Puerta.

But the ATP laws didn't, and still don't (which is the graver error) distinguish between PE and "recreational" drugs, so in an constructionist sense my case is down the toilet. So be it. Throw the book at Agassi if  you wish, but leave me out of it. Few lies I can think of have produced more agreeable results (including Agassi's great awakening), and I can live with the implied contradiction.

My advice to the ATP would be to drop the Big Brother grandstanding and re-think the approach to drugs that don't qualify as performance-enhancing; if you test for them, do it discreetly - not for policing purposes, per se, because we know what different drugs do in terms of performance enhancement. Do it in order to be able to intervene when some crazy 21-year old show signs of going off the rails. The US Army, as Jon Wertheim has noted, has less stringent baselines for recreational drug use than do the tennis folks. I guess you can be proud of that, if having utterly "clean" athletes is your over-arching goal. I'd prefer them to be clean by choice and am willing to cut slack to those who haven't gotten there yet - so long as it doesn't give them an edge in competition.

When it comes to calls for an investigation into a "cover-up," the futility of that impulse seems to me to be beyond easy description. This Agassi episode happened a dozen years ago, at a time when self-policing by the ATP and WTA was the norm. How could you not expect a certain amount of hanky-panky? The WADA protocols that have since been adopted (WADA was formed in 1999) may be Draconian, but they're definitely unambiguous, and designed to be more-or-less foolproof. Tennis has thrown in its lot with the Olympic movement (hence, WADA), and that goes a long way to explaining these positions.

This process has been evolutionary, part of the growth of the game. And if you insist on looking for a silver lining, think of it this way: the history of the Agassi case shows just how far the ATP has come in terms of creating a drug-free sports environment and a sport as well-regulated by the standards of the day as any. I've seen players tank. I've seen them defaulted and re-instated, I've seen them intentionally scuff out clay-court ball marks before an official can look at them, and I've seen players verbally abuse and intimidate opponents - all things unlikely to occur in today's game. Evolution is a ragged journey with plenty of loose ends (we're still born with appendixes, and a taste for Quentin Tarrantino movies, right?).

Moreover, I think this quote from an ITF official, appearing in a piece that ran on the DNA website (sheer serendipity, I assure you), puts the issue in context:

"Not only is the case outside the statute of limitations due to the eight-year bar, we cannot put someone on trial - who has since retired - based on laws which were not even formed when the supposed offense took place."

Evolution. What a long, strange trip it's been.


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Posted by red 11/03/2009 at 05:51 PM

first!

Posted by Red 11/03/2009 at 05:52 PM

First!!

Posted by Mr. X 11/03/2009 at 05:56 PM

If Tarantino's movies are loose ends, isay yes to loose ends:)
Anyway, thanks for the explanation about the process behind the publishing of a book, Pete. I'm guessing Sampras got a way less significant amount of money for his book, since he wasnt willing to tell all that many juicy things. Everything you describe make sense to me, since the publishers obviously want the big money they've paid back, and i dont think Agassi was willing to tell all those things because of the big money, considering the kind of money he (and his wife) has made in his career. I'm ready to believe the guy just wanted to tell the honest truth in his book.
Now, about the positive test issue. I agree that it makes no sense to have any investigation now about things that happened 12 years ago. And to some extent, i also agree on your point about recreational drugs, although i'm not enough of a medical expert to know if those substances help the performance of an athlete. They certainly didnt in Andre's case. The problem i see is not with Agassi lying to the ATP either, because i would also have done the exact some thing. And i certainly have told a good number of lies in my life (i believe everybody has). My problem is with the ATP burying this issue. You can say that the bought Andre's explanation, and i can also believe that (after all, someone bought Gasquet's kissing saga, which by the way, was much funnier). But if i'm not mistaken, no announcement was made that Andre had been tested positive back then. And in my opinion, there's the difference with all the other cases, where the positive result has been announced, and then the tribunal has listened to the player's explanation, and decided according to it. But Andre's case was different, because even with bad results, he was one of the main stars of the game, and his case wasnt made public, and it's easy to feel that it wasnt amde public exactly because he was a star.
That idea, that the stars will be protected if tested positive, puts the current stars of the game under question, since people could wonder if they havent been tested positive and being protected in the same way. I beilieve that's the main issue today's stars have with this case, or the one they should have, IMO.

Posted by tommy 11/03/2009 at 05:57 PM

I have no interest in Agassi or his book, and I'm a tennis fan.
I think he might have done a lot of other drugs besides meth.
And I don't care.

Athletes don't grow up spoiled like Paris Hilton. They're all pushed hard. And there are a lot more interesting athletes than men and women who hit tennis balls 5 hours a day

Though I prefer to watch tennis, I know football players like TO have much interesting backstories

Posted by Red 11/03/2009 at 05:58 PM

Where is everyone?
So this is the 2nd part of your dialogue on AA.
Am re-reading this one, need to absorb fully before I comment

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 05:59 PM

Darn it. shall I go third? I think you're right, pete, that this is all going to blow over. Nothing can be done 12 years later and nothing should be done I guess. If he'd won an olympic gold medal during his 'active' period, I suppose that would be a different story.

I am looking forward to the 60 minutes story this sunday. I just hope it's not that wretched woman doing the story.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 06:05 PM

none of my posts are showing up. great.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 06:05 PM

oops. :)

Posted by tommy 11/03/2009 at 06:11 PM

I don't see great football players like Elway, Montana, Marino writing books.
They don't play anymore. Fans want to see the games that are played now, the current stars.
I can't imagine a Joe Montana book tour, or the football media acting like a Montana book is a big deal.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 06:24 PM

actually, Montana has written several books and there's at least one biography of him. Don't know if they have salacious details of his private life but he's still very popular.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/03/2009 at 06:34 PM

"Their editors then had carte blanche to select the limited amount of "exclusive" material they were entitled to publish."

I see...this certainly complicates matters....atleast for Agassi. He dosen't get to choose what goes out first as a sneak peak, and then he will have to explain everything on 60 min.

Posted by Andrew 11/03/2009 at 06:41 PM

Pete, you write: "I've lied enough times in my life to know that in Agassi's shoes, I would have done the same thing. That's especially so when you consider the age factor (he was 26 at the time). I don't generally hammer people, especially young people, for lying when they've really screwed up, there's no other way out, and there's no victim in any meaningful sense - either to their action or the lie told to cover it up.

I also know it's "wrong" to lie, even that way. I just don't have it in my heart to generate any moral fury over it."


In response to your earlier post, "Tell-Nones and Tell-Alls," I wrote yesterday:

"I also can't find it in my heart to condemn him for lying 12 years ago. Telling the truth would have been a much harder thing to do 12 years ago than it is now, and we've already seen how telling the truth now has created quite a stir. It would have been a very admirable thing to do in the abstract, butI'm always more surprised when people I admire for how they play a sport I enjoy behave well than I am disappointed when they don't."

Not exactly the same words, but pretty much the same sentiment, I think.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/03/2009 at 06:49 PM

Pete,

That's a very well-balanced piece trying to cover all important points.

While I sympathize with Agassi for his ordeal, I also sympathize with Rafa and Roger who are forced to take stock of the situation as not only the current top players/stars but also as player representatives for the ATP.

If anything, in future..Agassi's example will be cited for how a sport shouldn't be run.

It is interesting to know that Agassi did not get to choose what bits went out before the book goes on the market. His appearance on 60 min won't be the most pleasant experience for him i guess.

Also, the info on how the book deals are negotiated was very interesting.

I don't know whether its a good thing, but it seems that the juicier the bio (which apparently means more controversy), more money the author gets. I was under the impression that if Pete Sampras has 14 slams and is one of the all-time greats...he automatically gets a bigger book deal. Well,well,well..we learn something new everyday.

Posted by joe_can_bike 11/03/2009 at 06:50 PM

From the bits & pieces we're getting, there was plenty of naked honesty in the book (i.e. the wig, the speed, the father) to satisfy the "book-buyers" demand for truth.

What would have Agassi's career looked like had the ATP suspended him & made his drug use known? That could have been far more useful & interesting. Perhaps he admits his drug addiction, still climbs out of it and wins Grand Slams...what a powerful story and example that may have been. Instead we get a story told in hindsight, with questionable details & murky motivations. An opportunity lost for all.

Posted by Vie 11/03/2009 at 06:52 PM

Great opinion article if I ever read one.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:12 PM

"I would have done the same thing." Thank you Pete for saying the truth that most people don't have the guts to say. Instead they pretend that they have never lied to get out of trouble. Sorry, I might be young, but I don't believe for one second that most people would have said, "Yeah, you caught me, I'm guilty, now please suspend me for two months and yes risk some of my lucrative endorsements and take away the respect of my fans and peers. Please take everything away from me." That's not realistic. Most people will lie to protect what they have worked so hard for. This is simply human nature. Agassi did what most people would have done given the same set of circumstances. So sorry I can't understand the judgemental attitude of some. Go Andre.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:16 PM

Joe can bike, An opportunity for Agassi? I don't think so. Who wants an opportunity when you can lose everything you have worked so hard for. Sorry, I think most people would turn that chance down. Of course, they won't tell you that. But let's get real.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:17 PM

Here's the challenge, I dare one person to come in here and say I have NEVER lied to get out of trouble.

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 07:18 PM

I think I'll have to have a lie down. I actually agree with everything in that post, Pete.

The problem with disentangling PEDs from recreational drugs is that sports administrators are under enormous pressure to showcase the moral probity of their product.

A significant percentage of the population is caught up in hysteria surrounding the "war on drugs", without realising that this is just a rerun of Prohibition, and we all know what happened there.

Until the Dick Pound's of this world summon up the courage to say publicly that recreational drug use is actually none of their business, this farcical nonsense will continue. Sure there are young, impressionable players out there, but that's what parents, coaches and mentors are for. Sports administrators should stick to administering sport.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/03/2009 at 07:19 PM

In the wikipedia article for WADA...on the whole page, only one athlete is quoted,and he is from tennis.

Roger Federer is quoted as expressing approval for the whereabouts changes for the testing by WADA.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:27 PM

Frankly, as long as the drugs don't enhance performance, it's none of my business what the players do recreationaly. I couldn't careless that Gublis was trying to buy sex in Sweden. I thought it showed badly on my home country that they reported something which is nobodies business.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:27 PM

Frankly, as long as the drugs don't enhance performance, it's none of my business what the players do recreationaly. I couldn't careless that Gublis was trying to buy sex in Sweden. I thought it showed badly on my home country that they reported something which is nobodies business.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/03/2009 at 07:31 PM

The ATP seems to have an interesting history..it has evolved as Pete says and I am pretty sure its still far from what it should be.

It seems WADA guidelines were implemented only from 2006. Its strange that Tennis was an Olympic sport for so long,yet players have to adhere to WADA standards only from 2006.

No wonder they complain so much about it.

Posted by joe_can_bike 11/03/2009 at 07:32 PM

"Who wants an opportunity when you can lose everything you have worked so hard for."

It's that kind of me-above-everyone mentality that gets us into jams like our collapsed economy. If everyone just looks out for themselves all the time, we ALL lose out. Tragedy of the commons, and so on.

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 07:32 PM

I would like to hear a pharmacologists take on amphetamines, including meth amphetamine vis a vis performance enhancement; they increase concentration, alertness, energy, activity, aggression, and self-esteem. (Wiki). Cocaine is also a potent central nervous system stimulant inducing hyperactivity. But again, would like to hear what an expert has to say.

Because both of these recreational substances must be obtained from illegal sources, it's easy to see why they are banned in sport.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/03/2009 at 07:33 PM

Yes, I agree with all Pete says and I also agree with Samantha that, generally speaking, all people lie at times but some just won't admit it.

We all know it is wrong and it is a failing.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/03/2009 at 07:36 PM

Should have read "human failing."

Posted by Jamaica Karen 11/03/2009 at 07:36 PM

In relation to the premise that meth use is not performance enhancing, here is an excerpt from a website about the side effects of meth use: A methamphetamine-induced "high" artificially boosts self-confidence, many users are overcome by a so-called "superman syndrome." In this state, methamphetamine abusers ignore their physical limitations and try to do things which they are normally incapable of performing. Meth is highly addictive because people often continue using the drug to avoid an inevitable crash that comes when the drugs' positive effects begin to wear off. Even first-time users experience many of meth's negative effects.

Now, if Agassi was taking crystal meth during his active years as a player, clearly it enhanced his performance mentally as he would always be under the premise that he would be able to do anything, and we all know how mental a sport tennis is.

As I say I am not expressing any amount of moral outrage at Agassi's drug use, what I, and I think a lot of others who love this sport are concerned about is the implied tainting of the sport and its biggest stars. Conspiracy theorists the world over will now come out of the woodwork to say see, we told you that the reason that [insert name of player here] was using performance enhancing drugs, if said player takes a hiatus.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:38 PM

Lynne, thanks for being honest. Ciao, need to study, honestly. LOL!

Posted by Ben Johnson 11/03/2009 at 07:41 PM

Honestly Pete you are the gift that keeps on giving. Next you'll be telling us it's unpatriotic not to back Agassi!

Posted by arbiter 11/03/2009 at 07:42 PM

Well...let's see...how long was Martina Hingis suspended? Two years...and let's apply that equally to Agassi's case...he was 26....so let's have him give all the money back for the following two years and give all the titles to his opponents.

That would be the only fair thing to do. Everything else is just a cheap talk, spreading the lie further.

Posted by Samantha Elin 11/03/2009 at 07:43 PM

Before I go, Joe did you notice that not one person has come in here and said I have never lied to get out of trouble? Wonder why? Honest night, no doubt. Again human frailty. Nite all.

Posted by EX-NADAL FAN 11/03/2009 at 07:45 PM

People, lets be very clear, IT WAS A PERFORMANCE INHIBITING DRUG, NOT A PERFORMANCE ENHANCING ONE!
I absolutely loved the article Pete, and could not agree with you more. Shame on Rafael Nadal for coming out on his high horse and scolding Agassi so severely. ITS THE ATPs fault, duhhh. They purposefully turned a blind eye, i mean Agassi's lie was pathetic(and I SUPPORT agassi here). Now Pete: how about that Robin Soderling article i've been craving for months? ;)

Posted by arbiter 11/03/2009 at 07:46 PM

...also, knowing how big humanitarian Agassi is, I am sure he would not object to giving the 5 mil to charity. That would be the Agassi we know from media...right?

Posted by CL 11/03/2009 at 07:47 PM

I did a little...okay a VERY little search... for ANY comments by his true contemporaries - Courier, Sampras, Chang, Kavelnikov, Korda, et al.. and so far I have found none. Malimeda found a Becker quote yesterday and Pat Cash has chimed in, but I still don't find anything from the people Agassi was regularly playing against, winning over, losing to..during most of his career. I find that.... interesting.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 11/03/2009 at 07:47 PM

Well,

I think I will take myself off for now. The newspapers have milked it to death, most of us have had our say and, quite frankly, I'm becoming a little bored with the topic.

Posted by Texas tennis 11/03/2009 at 07:52 PM

Penalty for rec drugs in 1997 was three months, not two years. Martina was caught under a later rule book.

I think he would have come back from a three month suspension in the fall of 1977 fine actually and I'm sure he's wishing this week he'd done that. I'll just say (again) to state the obvious - people on crystal meth aren't truthtellers.. Never mind the rest of us as various otherwise honest people are saying here. Now what he subsequently made of that in the post 99, new phase, Steffi to keep his feet on the ground phase I presume we're going to find out in the book.

Re Pete's post - as soon as I heard about the $5mil advance, I thought there must be something big. The general arc of his rise, fall and re-rise (along with the various media saturated coverage of his relationships with women) is so well known, that didn't seem sufficient. Ditto when I heard SI and People had bought the rights and that there will be a 60 minutes interview (it's Katie Couric - she's been twittering about it), I though definitely something up for the same reason.

That is interesting about his team not controlling the excerpts because I've been thinking they were hopeless with managing the bombshells, but this explains it and we'll see how this all looks when people can look at all 400+pages and not the 10 or so that the excerpts have included. (As I gather Pete has....)

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 07:53 PM

In regards to ice being a possible PED, let me say this. The fact you "think" you are superman is actually performance-degrading. The direct analogy is drink driving. How many times have you heard an intoxicated person say "I'm fine to drive", refusing to admit their skills are actually degraded.

The other thing is that if anyone tries to play a tournament under the influence of a recreational drug they run the serious risk of "coming down" mid-match.

All in all, I cannot see how such drugs can be remotely considered PEDs (just spend time with some ice addicts and you'll get the picture a lot more clearly than I can describe it).

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 11/03/2009 at 07:54 PM

as I pointed out in the other thread, i would LOVE to see the results of these players who snort coke or crystal meth before a match, and check their won loss record for the year..

to say these are performance enhancing drugs in bananas! What allows you to dance and party all night does NOT mean you can perform as a pro tennis player, focus, hit clutch shots, etc., I mean cmon, is all common sense dead these days?

Posted by joe_can_bike 11/03/2009 at 07:57 PM

Fine, I concede. We're all a bunch of self-centered lying thieves who couldn't be trusted with even a bag of nickels, because we'll either steal half the bag or beat each other into a pulp.

Actions have consequences. I like when people understand that their actions (or inactions) will have undesired consequences, especially on people other than themselves. Agassi's revelation shows none of that consideration.

Posted by Texas tennis 11/03/2009 at 07:58 PM

Jim Courier said this right away (quoted with Gimelstob on a Bonnie Ford article on ESON that came out last week):

"Those of his peers willing to comment have voiced support. "This will not diminish the way I regard Andre, which is as a person with the highest possible character,'' said Justin Gimelstob, now a Tennis Channel analyst. "It's refreshing to finally see an athlete write a memoir that's actually revealing. This is completely in line with who Andre is. When he does something, he does it all the way.

"The best thing about Andre is his connection with his vulnerability and his flaws and his constant desire to change and develop and evolve and grow. He'll have no problem looking a kid in the eye and saying 'I've made mistakes.'"

[+] Enlarge
Al Bello /Allsport
Andre Agassi's tawdry episodes in 1997 might have cast some shadows, but they only make the latter part of his career that much more impressive.
Jim Courier, in an e-mail response, wrote "It takes a lot of courage to lay it all out there and examine oneself the way he does in the book.'' Andy Roddick expressed himself in a Twitter post that read, "Andre is and always will be my idol. I will judge him on how he's treated me, and how he has changed the world for the better.''

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 08:03 PM

Joe, lol.

And I would love to have seen the reaction if it had been a European or Asian player who spilled his guts in a tell all. All bloody hell would have broken loose here.

As Dylan Thomas said, "It's almost as much fun being a hypocrite as it is a liar."

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 08:03 PM

Sorry Pete to me lying is lying no matter how you cut it. He lied to save his arse. To me it makes no difference what drugs he used performance enhancing or recreational. I can't see how AA's lying is any different to someone who used performance enhancing drugs. Last night I went back to 2005 and read articles you wrote about doping namely the Argies. You do seem to have one rule for them and another for other players. I don't care if the player is ranked No. 8 or No. 144 in the world. Like I said in yesterday's post, crystal meth according to AA gave him boundless energy so he could clean his house, well this is a performance enhancing.

But I am not surprised you were on AA's side.

Posted by Ozone 11/03/2009 at 08:03 PM

I still can never understand the "preferential" treatment argument and essentially Pete's whole argument is based on that (cut Agassi some slack)...

That cutting of slack was NOT fair to Paul Goldstein that rainy day...

That cutting of slack today is NOT fair to Martina Hingis, whose career and reputation was destroyed...I am sure she is having a laugh at the authorities.

No matter how productive you think a lie is, it HAS to be done consistently for everybody, otherwise, treating Agassi because he is American, Charismatic, goodlooking, sells tickets, otherwise good guy, philanthropic...any number of those reasons is NOT right.

This is irrespective of the fact that he chose to come clean now, when he cannot be essentially directly harmed by the revelation (except for the bad press) and can only gain in terms of money.

And the bigger blame falls on others. He is only sympathized with.

I guess this concept of "impartiality" can never be convinced upon Pete.

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 08:07 PM

I forgot to add, yesterday I asked you Pete if you thought lying was ok, I think you have answered my question.

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 08:10 PM

joe_can_bike, please spare us the Mother Teresa impersonation. Moral courage is not about not making mistakes, it is about facing up to them and correcting them and growing as a person as a result.

Arbiter, I'm sure Andre has given more than $5m to charity already, and will continue to do so. He has been a tremendous example to other players who have profited from the sport about the importance of giving back, of making a contribution to the world we all live in.

Posted by Ozone 11/03/2009 at 08:11 PM

Yes, I am not surprised he is on AA's side either.

And everybody including Andrew should read the Argies post.

And Pete is trying to frame this discussion as "oh, all those people taking moral high ground" and "have you never lied yourself" etc...

It is not about that.

Agassi can lie, Agassi can use drugs, whatever. Just treat him the same way you would treat any Argie or Martina Hingis or Richard Gasquet. Thats all.

In 1995, Mats Wilander was suspended for 3 months for Cocaine use.

See what I mean.

ATP did the mistake then, and Pete has been under this same fallacy ever since.

If you can be nice to Agassi, and get interview time with him or his wife, which is a big deal for your professional career, I guess why would anybody be harsh on him, huh?

No matter what we say, this is how the business world works.

And the business savvy people like Agassi and Pete Bodo are good at justifying these deeds also. Good for them.

Posted by ladyjulia 11/03/2009 at 08:14 PM

I don't think crystal meth is performance enhancing in sports (otherwise, WADA would have classified it as such..its been around since WW2 anyway).

However,sports (based heavily on the concept of fair play) need to be drug free. PEDs as well as recreational drugs.

While rec drugs are not PEDs, it will be a poor sport that does not test for rec drugs.

First, to keep the locker room a safe place for 16 or 17 yr old impressionable teenagers. Proper laws and testing will deter atleast some fraction of athletes.

Second, if i was an athlete and playing a GS final, i would like to know whether the opponent is stoned or not. Whether its crystal meth or cocaine. It won't change the tactics,it won't change the performance, but it will affect the respect the opponent gets.

And respect is an integral part of the sport. Tennis is one of the few sports where people hurl balls at bullet speeds at each other, destroy each other...yet wait at the net to shake the opponents hand and pat each other's back. Respect is integral and also depends heavily on the fact that the opponent is giving it his best. Which may not be the case if he turns up stoned. I am sure many players wouldn't like to believe that they won against an addict or a one-time stoned athlete.

If out-of-competition testing is not there to deter them, then why will athletes stay out of rec drugs? They deal with pressure, fame, money and its tempting to escape (Capriati etc). If Agassi had not failed the drug test, would he have recovered? He deems the ATP throwing the case out as "new life". The "new life" seems to be after he was caught, not before.

Third, rigorous testing might deter players from trying rec drugs..its good for their own health if they stay away from rec drugs. Also, I wonder if there is counseling and rehabilitation procedures are available to players.

Let's not do away with rec testing. The sport, for its integrity, respect and health of players, needs to be clean. Whether its PEDs or rec drugs. They both deserve to be in the banned category.

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 08:27 PM

I can only assume that people know very little about recreational drugs. As someone who has put himself voluntarily through Drug and Alcohol Rehad centres twice (for the latter) I can assure you:
1. Ice is most certainly not a PED
2. It is a terrible drug to detox from, with a long and nasty withdrawal cycle
3. Hand-wringing that an ice-user would tell a lie is just preposterously naive

Andre fixed up his life and reinvented himself in the process. And by coming clean in his book, people have again had to confront the fact that life does not by categorical imperative and moral absolutes. That is surely a good thing.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 08:29 PM

Really nice quotes from gimmelstob, roddick and courier. And i don't think rafa and roger came down too hard on andre. they just wondered (or at least rafa and becker wondered) why he came out with this 12 years later. But as courier said, it's refreshing to read a memoir that's actually revealing, warts, wigs and all.

bikerjoe: that would have been such a rags to riches story! If he'd gone to rehab etc etc and then come back to win a slew of majors. oh well.

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 08:30 PM

amphetamine's are banned by the WADA under the heading: S6 Stimulants.

http://alturl.com/y5du

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 08:31 PM

*life does not work by categorical imperative and moral absolutes*

Posted by Ruth 11/03/2009 at 08:32 PM

Syd: You don't even have to wait for a pharmacologist's opinion about those drugs you mentioned. Just listen to Agassi's own description of how he felt and what he did -- not for a few minutes -- but for a good while after he ingested his first crystal meth dose.

It reminded me of whatmy tennis-playing doctor told me at the time of the Hingis story: any drug that makes one athlete experience extreme bursts of energy and makes him/her feel able to conquer the world ("like Superman, dude" is what Andre's Slim said) can rightly be considered a PED --even if it may have a different or opposite effect on another player.

I would agree 100% that the substances that dull the senses, blur the vision etc of ALL users cannot be considerd PEDs and should not even be tested for. That would probably work well, of course, until the first drunk or high-on-grass player manages to get by the officials and walks on to the court in front of millions in New York or London or wherever.

And, BTW, I don't think that Agassi's father was giving his young son speed (according to Andre's brother) for "recreational" purposes.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 08:32 PM

ladyjulia: good post. well said.

Posted by Texas tennis 11/03/2009 at 08:35 PM

My (second hand!) understanding of crystal meth is that it gives you a lot of energy but you can't concentrate - tennis needs concentration. I can't imagine anyone playing tennis better on crystal meth...

I think it seems clear that the dad giving speed was in juniors.

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 08:39 PM

Ruth; meth does not dull the senses, it heightens them. Remember when they used to give out diet pills? How speedy you felt? I just loved to raid my mother's meds cabinet.

Anyway, not qualified to discuss further, and I don't think anyone else here is except Hart, and I do believe she mentioned some "potential" for performance enhancement. :P

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 08:45 PM

Ruth,

Sorry, misread your post. Which was a good one, and I agree! :)

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 08:48 PM

Ruth,

Sorry!! Misread your post. Yes, I agree totally with what you say. My bad. :)

Drinking too much tea. Jewell would approve.

Posted by highpockets 11/03/2009 at 08:52 PM

Pete, thanks for telling the truth about lying. I'm late to the original party, but here's my take:

How many of us have had secrets? Led double lives? Hidden some aspect of ourselves from others, even those closest to us? Protected our darkest secrets with everything we had, telling ourselves that we were protecting our loved ones from the truth behind our secrets?

I don't pretend to know Andre Agassi's motivation in baring his soul for this book, but I do know that every time he had to answer a question about himself and his life (which was more often than any of us can imagine), he knew he was lying. Therein lies the sadness in his eyes.

If he is facing the truth of his life and is willing to accept the consequences of that truth, I applaud him. If he willing to share his true self with the children at his school, I also applaud him. In saying that he felt euphoria when he first took said drugs, he is telling any first time drug user what they already know. Drugs DO feel good at first. They feel good for awhile. Then, if you keep taking them, they devour you and spit you out.

No doubt Andre has grown very tired of holding those secrets ... they do tend to get heavier over time.

It could also be that someone was going to expose him and bring out these secrets anyway. So be it. He is facing his peers head on by doing this. He's saying, "Here I am ... good, bad and ugly. Judge me as you will."

His whole life has been a public spectacle ... he has known nothing else. I would expect nothing less than an appearance on "60 Minutes" before the release of his book.

Can you compare his life to a street crack addict in Detroit? No way. Was it wrong for him to lie to the authorities? Absolutely. Did he experience pain in childhood and beyond even though he was talented and famous? Definitely.

Like you said, life is full of shades of gray. ... it's not black and white like we want it to be.

Posted by joe_can_bike 11/03/2009 at 08:52 PM

Thanks JohnC. We have the same nose, but I'm usually never mistaken for Mother Teresa! I always found it interesting that she died 6 days after Princess Diana. And to wrestle this post back to tennis & drugs, Martina Hingis won her U.S. Open two days after that. That was quite a week in 1997! I bet Agassi doesn't remember it too clearly though. (Ouch, cheap shot.)

Posted by Jason 11/03/2009 at 08:53 PM

Pete, your followup article is just another example of what a total hypocrite you are. I guess I thought of you as some kind of impartial journalist before this episode but clearly I hadn't been tuned in. The extent that you have stretched your arguments to cover for him almost makes me wonder if you are on the Agassi payroll (or want to be). I mean let's look at some of the key points you've made over the course of these two articles

-Agassi cheated and lied and should be applauded for his candor now that he's in the clear and the damage has been done
-Agassi isn't motivated by money but he did negotiate a big advance vs just writing the book and getting paid by its success
-Supposedly Agassi has a great conscience and his "impulse to honesty came up against his desire to promote his sport". Yes right, this 12 year delayed honesty impulse has shown us the mind of someone with real moral conviction.
-You claim that Agassi's drug test lie is victimless (tell that to all the guys that lost to him when he should have been banned), but then state that if he wasn't truthful now he'd be "cheating" all us fans by not telling us everything now (conveniently forgetting all the damage he's done to the sport as a result)


Lastly, you criticize the philosophy student guy's article for being a cynic and then you happily admit to being a liar, that essentially everybody lies and you don't have a problem with that. Sounds pretty cynical to me doesn't it?

Honestly, get a clue, you're hopelessly compromised as you cheer lead for your chosen favorites, really lame.



Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 08:53 PM

ladyjulia, that all makes perfect sense if you subscribe to the Nanny State solution to the drug problem.

IMV, parents and coaches should be reponsible for their children/charges, not TDs or sports administrators, whose legitimate job it is to ensure no one cheats by taking PEDs.

If you compete in Rotterdam it is perfectly legal to smoke a joint after dinner if you so desire. Not so much in Abu Dhabi. Recreational drugs are a matter between the individual and law enforcement apparatus of the country where the tournament is held. Nothing to do with sports administrators or anyone else, including moralising fans.

Of course, a player caught indulging in their hotel room or a restaurant by the local authorities is likely to lose their sponsorships faster than you can say "Nike"! Which is something of a disincentive. Ditto for any other kind of "bad behaviour".

It is a dangerous illusion to think we can "solve" the drug problem by ever more intrusive regulation of people's private lives. It doesn't work.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 11/03/2009 at 08:56 PM

Angel - I went back again today and re-read the CaƱas and "Doping Argie" pieces and...yeah, we are -->here<-- in our thinking on this.

Posted by I did Meth 11/03/2009 at 08:57 PM

This story has caught my interest (it probably would have anyway) since I did crystal meth pretty regularly from about 10-8 years ago (and I follow tennis closely). By regularly I mean, most weekends, and then the occassional Mondays and other weekdays. I was more of the urban, yuppie meth user (yup we exist). Don't think I'll get a $5 million advance, but I always find it somewhat odd to see opinions thrown around about drug use by so many people who have never done them...

I went out with my friends on the weekends. Partied a lot. We did meth among other things. I also had a prestigious (for a low 20 something) job. Worked 60 hours or so a week, did well by conventional standards (wasn't winning slams...) and was pretty highly regarded and actually had to supervise the even younger types. I think at that age, moving up at your relatively low level job is possible if you are competent regardless of the bad decisions you are making.

I did meth on the weekends, and then sometimes after getting zero - 8 hours of sleep over the course of a 48 hour period would have to go to work. Over time, I started sometimes bringing a "baggie" of meth to work at times. After partying all weekend, you need to sleep. Meth can keep you awake. I would go to the bathroom and take "bumps" of it... small amounts. Just to keep me going.

Here's my first point. There is no way in hell I could perform at my job better after doing meth than I could sober. Athletic competition? No way! (I actually didn't play tennis for about five years during this time). I could perform better on a Monday doing a little meth than I could dealing with a crash from the weekend. I would say it was a performance extender rather than an enhancer. Sober all around would have been better.

I worked at client sites, rather than in the office. On one Monday, I went to the bathroom did a bump and came out. Shortly later I checked my wallet and my "baggie" was gone. For the first time in human history retracing my steps actually worked. There was the baggie on the floor, just outside the bathroom. Clients would have walked by, some may have seen it. Regardless i picked it when no one was around and got it out of sight. I was freaked out, understanding what a near complete f-up had occurred.

I didn't "quit" that day, though I never brought drugs inside an office again. Soon though, my use went down, friends and scenes changed. Life goes on. Now in my 30's I don't do meth.

I wouldn't say I was an addict (I stopped using slowly rather than quitting). I would say I had a problem (obviously!). Lucky for me, nothing terrible happened. That's that.

I'm nothing like Andre Agassi. But I was only a couple years younger than he and when I think about that time, it's easy to say I was stupid or crazy. But some of the criticisms that Agassi gets I would laugh off. I was young, friends were important, having fun was important, I had more money than I had ever known. Sure I was doing illegal things, but I'm sure as hell glad (nor do I think it would have helped me) that I didn't get the equivalent of a 3 month suspension.

The honesty question? Samantha and Pete and others have dealt with it. But in my case, if someone at work asked me if I did meth at the time would I say "yes"? If the baggie on the floor had been found and I was questioned, would I have admitted it? Of course not. Who in their right mind would? Honestly and legitamacy and a clean sport (or workplace) are all good in the abstract. But when the admission is about YOU, and when the admission will do more harm (to you) than the act there is no WAY anyone would admit this. It's crazy to think otherwise.

So Agassi did recreational drugs. So the ATP was lax and accepted a dumb excuse. Maybe you like him less for doing that stuff at one point in his life - okay. Maybe you think the ATP should have been harder on him, I think the Hingis case says otherwise, but to each his own. But drugs happen, normal people do them, and I have a hard time thinking there is something repugnant or even spectacular with went on here.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 11/03/2009 at 09:02 PM

I did Meth - Appreciate the insight!

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 09:03 PM

TT

AA's dad giving him speed in juniors is worse as he has already set a precedent. Do the juniors get tested?

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 09:05 PM

And how many titles did Andre win in 1997. Zero.

That's some performance enhancement.

Posted by Arun 11/03/2009 at 09:06 PM

Excellent post, Madame Highpockets.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 09:09 PM

thanks for your post, I did Meth. didn't think it was possible to be a casual user without getting addicted. me thinks you are one lucky dude or dudess.

Posted by Texas tennis 11/03/2009 at 09:11 PM

My daughter's a junior and she's never been tested! (I'm not giving her speed either although I've read some articles recently that many juniors in many sports are drinking multiple red bulls or other energy drinks before they have to play/perform.) I don't know if there's ever testing of juniors. Maybe at the ITFs but maybe not. Certainly was not testing of juniors when Agassi was playing age groups though...

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 09:16 PM

sblily - thanks for being in agreement with me. It must of been a slow day yesterday in the tennis world for me to do that.

TBH I haven't read the Pete's whole article as I stopped when I got to the part about accepting AA's lie.

Posted by Vie 11/03/2009 at 09:18 PM

I did Meth, thanks for sharing thoughts on the lying aspect.

Posted by joe_can_bike 11/03/2009 at 09:21 PM

As many have stated here, many of us don't know jack about meth. Here's a fun fact I just intertubed: For every pound of Meth produced, approximately five pounds of toxic waste is generated.

So not only are users damaging themselves, they are laying waste to the environment too. Fun bang for the buck that stuff!

Posted by Vie 11/03/2009 at 09:22 PM

misspelled in my post: should be lieing, not lying.

Posted by Nick 11/03/2009 at 09:22 PM

When any of us take an action we do so with two things in mind: Purpose and Benefit (in this case the Agassi action of focus was to "reveal" all this dirty laundry). But why is all the focus on his action of making such a revelation instead of what it was he revealed? In the Bodo post "Tell All or Tell Nones" about Agassi & his revelations, this is the money quote supporting the idea that he sides with Agassi in that the important issue is what Agassi says now rather than what he did then:

"But if you're shattered by Agassi's revelations, let me ask you this: Can you conceive of someone writing his or her autobiography under the premis that he wants to be utterly honest about himself and his life? Is that such a hard idea to swallow?"

"Shattered"? Surprised maybe. We take actions for two reasons: Purpose and Benefit. So Bodo tells us he thinks the Purpose of the Agassi revelations is utter honesty about himself, with the presumed Benefit a clear conscience of some sort. That's an explanation that smacks of a narcissism consistent with the Agassi personality we've seen all too clearly over the years. Andre just thinks we just can't get enough of him. Or he has a dread of his own irrelevance. His whole career has been a search for the brightest spotlights he could push his way in to. Why should a tabloid auto-biography be any different? The Benefit? Money? Maybe or maybe not. Keeping your name in the headlines? Well just look what the juicy tidbits pre-book availability have spawned. Andre Agassi is all about The Spotlight. He lives for it.

And I suppose his attempt at utter honesty would be titillating if such an act of honesty was all about him (ah..the narcissism again). His revelation that the ATP helped hide the results of his drug test has put them in a bad position, in a few ways. They have to answer why they did it for him, first off. And then answer why others who may have tested during that same period who did receive the 3-month suspension, if any. Let alone suspending Gasquet today. The ATP will also have explanations to make to the Agassi contractual sponsors - many of whom they may want to court for future event sponsorships. If the ATP knew he was using Meth and declined to punish him for it or make it public (and let's remember if Agassi purchased any of this meth for his own use, it's a felony), then it could make the ATP complicit in perpetrating a contractual fraud. Despite Agassi's tanking in the rankings in 1997, his Endorsement Gravy Train of contracts was likely alive and well, still earning him untold millions. When companies use a celebrity to endorse heir product the signed contract is riddled with escape clauses for the companies, many of which have to do with substance abuse, which is laughably being referred to today as "recreational" drugs. Had any of his sponsors known he was using Meth they likely would have invoked any escape clause for such a thing, ending the continual flow of their dollars into the Agassi bank account. After all, Meth users aren't exactly sought after Pitch Men, are they?

THIS is why Agassi lied through his teeth to the ATP about how he ingested the Meth, once he knew they knew what he was doing. He was all too aware that this would end the money he'd become accustomed to living on for all those years. He lied to save his ass. So now we know the real Purpose and Benefit focus of why he chose to reveal what he says now. But the real Purpose and Benefit was why he did what he did back then: lie. And lie to escape consequences, and to keep raking in cash. For all those who try to dismiss his actions of "recreation" vs. PED's is to marginalize, distract, and create a sideshow. The ATP had rules in place about drug use, and you either enforce them or eliminate them. The real truth of the Agassi character is told in what he did in the face of dilemma: his choice was either, do I confess to what I did and take the consequences, or do I lie to protect my own status, and continued income? And he cowardly chose to lie, deceive, and subvert. And worse, his "revelation" of trying to be "utterly honest with himself" has now come at the expense of the very organization that looked the other way solely for his benefit, especially financially. With friends like that...

It's pathetic that someone like Bodo (and many others) can say, in effect, "Hey..it doesn't matter that he used meth, so what? His choice. But isn't it so great of him to tell us all about it now??" Yeah, Sure is. In a book he hopes millions of us will buy.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 09:31 PM

Vie: you were right the first time! it's "lying" :)

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 11/03/2009 at 09:36 PM

I remain baffled by anoyone who says meth could help one play better tennis! its absolutely incredibly absurd, as our new friend described in the above post ...

the mental focus and calm and concentration it takes to play tennis under pressure is so laugably NOT aligned with meth use it's just baffling anyone can consider it 'performance enhancing' ...

Posted by naughty T 11/03/2009 at 09:37 PM

So ... When Agassi played here in Lisbon in 2000,in the then Masters Cup, a friend of one of my co-actors was his driver. At the end of the tourny AA said "Hey I would like to send you something for xmas. Give me your address." The guy gave AA his details thinking he would get a card or something. Come Xmas time a letter arrives from Andre with a cheque for $4000.
The man is a monster!

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 11/03/2009 at 09:41 PM

yes madame highpockets, bravo, just incredible how so many who know nothing about this topic dive in and ride their high horse, superior and without those shades of grey surely we all have and live with and yearn to liberate ourselves from..

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 09:43 PM

great story naughty!

Posted by just a note 11/03/2009 at 09:44 PM

Angel of the Surf - "I stopped when I got to the part about accepting AA's lie." So did I.

I have many feelings swirling inside but can't find the words to express them. There are many thoughtful comments; one stood out for me from joe_can_bike:

"It's that kind of me-above-everyone mentality........... If everyone just looks out for themselves all the time, we ALL lose out."

It resonates for me but I'm not clear so I'll just stop.

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 11/03/2009 at 09:45 PM

geez NIck, I guess its nice to have had a life where youve never had a painful horrible topic youve never had to lie about to protect your world and self...

this is reminding me a bit of Billie jean King basically lying about her sexuality when she was sued and under assault for being gay... at the time, what was she supposed to do? it took her a long time to deal with her issues and set herself free with the truth...

judge not, and obviously, Agassi is gonna pay a price for this, one way or another, clearly he's decided its' time to pay the piper and come clean...

Posted by pogiako 11/03/2009 at 09:47 PM

If Andre is not an American, will you Pete be covering him up to? You were pestering Roger with his Wimbledon outfit because he is not an American. Now that Andre had cheated, you are still glorifying him.

Posted by Syd 11/03/2009 at 09:49 PM

Tim,

I don't think anyone has tried to claim definitively that crystal meth enhances performance.

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 09:56 PM

Samantha sorry to disappoint but I haven't lied to get out of trouble. I tried to once when I was 15 but my father was so angry with me (yes I got a few beltings) that I never lied again. I also lost his trust and respect for a few years which really hurt me. I was taught to tell the truth.

Posted by Vie 11/03/2009 at 09:58 PM

Annie, was wondering about that. Thanks!

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 09:59 PM

Well, this clearly makes your average Fedal war look pretty tame.

Stepping back, the polarisation of opinion is pretty profound, and the question is: what is its primary axis.

I reckon it's between those who believe life should be structured and struggled with around "ought/ought not", and those who believe the starting point should be "is/is not".

So Hume's fork of 270 years ago, which no philosopher has convincingly bridged since, is alive and well today in the reactions to one man's struggle with human frailty and the value of truth.

Posted by Bored 11/03/2009 at 09:59 PM

To excuse a lie on the basis of its being human nature is the same as excusing any other part of being human, no matter how dark or depraved. We need to be held accountable for our lies, for our cheating, hypocrisy, theft, whatever - else someone else will pay.

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/03/2009 at 10:01 PM

Is that you, Pete, channeling The Grateful Dead? LOL

I'm not so sure about ratting out the AP or the sporet, in general... that seems like a stretch, as far as I can tell. But it could be a by-product of Agassi's confession, not an intended consequence. The thing is, if the ATP, ITF and whomever else matters did not have the mechanisms in place at the time to deal with such a case as this back when it occurred, then the point is certainly moot.

I still come away with the distinct impression that the timing of the confession says a lot. It says to me that Agassi had likely been counseled, by a lawyer who had perhaps even talked with the sport's ruling bodies, prior to putting pen to paper, or at least prior to putting the words of his confession to paper. It says, to me, that there is a knowledge in the mind of the author that whatever is told will never lead to any legal action against the author. What's not to like about that deal?

As for the ATP and covering up the indiscretions of its marquee players, I agree with you that they need to focus solely on the performance-enhancing stuff, and leave the youngsters to pursue whatever earthy delights they wish when they are not in the act of meeting some contractual obligation for the sport, including competing. I do like the idea of the random testing perhaps leading to a gentle intervention if habitual patterns (i.e., addiction) are detected or suggested.

To put a not-too-fine point on it, Hingis was screwed, and it's a shame. As luck would have it, she was already contemplating her second leaving anyway.

Posted by Tim (Year of Red Rogie ) 11/03/2009 at 10:10 PM

I dunno, Syd, I ve been reading a lot here about the energy and physical lift you get from meth, as if that's some bridge to winning tennis, any remote indication that meth can help an athlete who needs mental acuity to succeed to me needs to be clarified big time...

Agassi did meth to esacpe the mental pain he was in, NOT to win tennis matches, lets get that clear...

Posted by MrsSanta 11/03/2009 at 10:14 PM

Hingis needs to sue someone till they cry. I'm not sure who is appropriate but a suitable defendant must be found.


On a more crass note how does bidding for books work? At the time the bidding was happening the book had yet to be written so how do they determine the potential? Does the subject's agent send around a note to various publishers describing salacious acts his client is plannng to disclose? I'm imagining Agent of Agassi on the phone going "there's child molestation, speed AND ICE. That's worth at least $4M."

Posted by MrsSanta 11/03/2009 at 10:28 PM

Apparently I'm reading impaired. That's how it works. So are the other publishers who are outbid required to never disclose details? Do you sign some sort of contract before the salacious details calls? And what happens if you don't sell $5M worth? Do you end up owing the publisher money? So many non-meth related questions......

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 11/03/2009 at 10:29 PM

On the question of what can or should be done in the way of rectification....

Though it may be long past the "window of opportunity" there is clear precedent oin collegiate and Olympic sports. Win-Lose records are overturned, erased; medals are returned and world record times erased.

A kid who lies to compete in college and then is "found out" is kicked off the squad, perhaps terminated from the institution, and the team suffers, as well. The wins with that player in the game become losses, the chammpionship rings returned, etc.

I'm not sure that this same kind of thing could not happen in pro tennis. Of course, it would be impossible to turn a third round loss to a "using" Agassi into a win for the opponent, without causing an unpredictable ripple effect that could not be reconciled. However, an ATP tour victory in the final could be overturned quite easily, the opponent become the winner of an ATP title.

It would be ugly, and unprecedented in tennis. But it wouldn't be unprecedented in sport.

Posted by Angel of the Surf 11/03/2009 at 10:34 PM

MrsSanta thank you for making me smile. Well I won't be buying the book as I don't want to contribute to AA making more money but if all the proceeds of the books were going to charity I might reconsider.

Posted by JohnC 11/03/2009 at 10:39 PM

Slice, there were no tourney wins to overturn. Dry as the Sahara desert was Agassi's year of using, which is what you would expect when someone is in the grip of such a drug.

Posted by Dude 11/03/2009 at 11:01 PM

Pete, I don't think you would have been as kind if the player in question wasn't american.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 11/03/2009 at 11:05 PM

where is this gingoistic stuff coming from? This issue has absolutely nothing to do with nationality. If these revelations had come from Becker or Moya or Nalbandian, why would pete feel differently? He was very easy on Gasquet if i recall correctly.

Posted by sally 11/03/2009 at 11:19 PM

because everything on here turns into an anti-american rant.
it is par for the course.
america haters-go to the BBC site if you hate us so much.

Posted by btaylor 11/03/2009 at 11:20 PM

What in the H*** have all of these self-serving moral judgment freaks ever REALLY done (as AA continues to do) to make the world a better place!?

My guess is not much, but my, oh my, can't we just sit back and pass our "oh, so perfect" judgment on someone else!?

What about "the man in the mirror?"

Like Pete said, if all you do is take a black/white stance in a world that is shaded with grey, you're going to have a tough time navigating through it...

I say BRAVO, ATTBOY AA for having the GUTS to "out" himself because maybe as he said, someone can learn from his mistakes...

Besides, there's a hellova lot of worse things going on in this world besides Andre's admissions...

I feel that you people should just GET OVER IT, but that's just MY opinion and I'ved lived in this world long enough to give credence to the quote that "opinions are like a**holes...everybody's got one!

Maybe in time, after reflecting on this issue and venturing to get off of their moral "high horses they MIGHT, I repeat MIGHT just be able to find some forgiveness...perhaps not...

Alas...one of the hardest things to do in life is to open a closed mind...

Posted by susan 11/03/2009 at 11:27 PM

highpockets 8:52pm best post i've read on this topic.

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